By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 11, 2012
The Spectator recently gave front-page coverage to a new report from the Chamber of Commerce that found that "Hamilton should invest in making its neighbourhoods walkable and accessible if it wants the local creative industry to continue to grow."
In response, I wrote the following letter to the editor. They didn't publish it, so I'm sharing it here instead.
UPDATE: They just called to let me know that they are publishing it, in Saturday's paper. Thanks, Spectator!
As part-owner of a creative business, the study that found walkability is critically important to attracting, retaining and growing creative businesses comes as no surprise.
The corollary is that low-density sprawl criss-crossed by one-way thoroughfares is stifling the growth of this important economic sector.
That doesn't need to remain the case. Hamilton should certainly keep pushing forward with its LRT plans but given the necessity of provincial funding for that project, its ultimate fate is not entirely within our hands. We do have the means, however, to convert our one-way streets to two-way.
Two-way streets are economically more healthy than one-way streets. They nurture the variety of businesses and amenities that are important to making walking a viable mode of transportation. They are also far more pleasant to walk down, as anyone who has walked along James Street North and Main Street can attest.
It's no accident that a disproportionate number of creative companies are found on two-way streets like James, John, and Locke. Convert more of our one-way streets to two-way streets with wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and ample transit opportunities and creative companies will flock to them.
I've only recently become aware of just how important the creative industry is to Ontario's economy. According to the government of Ontario the industry is responsible for $12.2 billion of Ontario's GDP annually, which is "now larger than Ontario's energy industry, is approaching 70% of the auto manufacturing sector and surpasses those of agriculture, forestry and mining sectors combined."